Though the COVID-19 vaccine rollout holds out hope for an eventual return to normalcy, the near-term challenges of safely staging live performances remain real.
In December, Miami City Ballet tackled this challenge with its outdoor production of “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker in the Park” in downtown Doral.
For its 2021 spring season, MCB extends this model further – bringing dance to South Florida neighborhoods with “To Miami, With Love,” a series of pop-up performances set in iconic locations including Lincoln Road, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Wynwood, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami Design District, and The Underline.
Admission to the performances is free, though tickets are required. And all performances adhere to the health and safety measures implemented by each locality or individual business. For those unable to attend in person, the pop-up performances will be freely distributed on MCB’s social media channels beginning the week of March 8.
“As a cultural institution, we wanted to demonstrate our love for this city that really made us who we are,” said MCB artistic director Lourdes Lopez. “When COVID hit, we thought we are not going to let go of our desire to thank this city, instead we will find other ways of doing it.
“And the idea of pop-ups came up. What better way than to go out and dance in all the iconic places this mosaic of the city has to offer?”
MCB and partnered with New World Symphony to perform on Lincoln Road on Jan. 30, as a nod to the historic Miami Beach beginnings of both organizations.
“Before this horrible pandemic, the 35th season of Miami City Ballet was going to be a love letter to Miami, and we still wanted to find a way to give back to the community, give people a chance to take some time to relax,” said Cameron Catazaro, a former MCB school student who joined the company as a Corps member in 2019.
When the pandemic forced the cancellation of MCB’s season, Catazaro quarantined at home in Maryland. During downtime, he began work on “A Lovely Feeling,” a pas de deux set to the plaintive prelude of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, “La Traviata.”
“It came naturally to me to choreograph,” Catazaro said. “The music we dance to is why I love to dance.Locating the music and then imagining the steps that would work for it was the fun part for me. Seeing the music play out through the dancers is what I really love.”
Verdi’s music especially moved him.
“I would play it during quarantine while doing puzzles,” he said. “Every time it would catch my ear, and I would put the needle back and play it again.”
The pop-up also includes new work by Miami City Ballet Corps dancer and choreographer Julian Goodwin-Ferris.
“For this project, I really spent a lot of time studying the musicality of Balanchine’s ‘Square Dance,’” he said. “Balanchine has such interesting ways of sometimes following Baroque music’s structure.”
His new work, “Realized Inner Voices,” is a two-part pas de trois set to the music of 18th-century composers Georg Philipp Telemann and Jean-Marie Leclair.
“Realized Inner Voices,”one of his first choreographies, was inspired by a visit to Vizcaya Museum andGardens, where his ballet will be performed on Feb. 5.
“Vizcaya feels like a villa you would see in Italy, but it is also a mix of different styles and eras of European history,” he said. “Vizcaya’s mash-up of different European art is, in a way, similar to ballet that is choreographed today. Influences and ideas ften come from the large mix of the choreographers and ballets that came before, but the steps still trace their origin to the Italian court.”
- WHAT: “To Miami, With Love” pop-up performances
- WHEN: Jan. 30-Feb. 21
- WHERE: Venues throughout Miami-Dade County
- COST: Admission is free, but tickets are required
- INFORMATION: MiamiCityBallet.org/popups
*This article was originally published on Sun Sentinel by Sean Erwin and can be found here.